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More of the Jewish boys of summer

With the 2008 baseball season in full swing, we thought it was a good time to take another look at some of the Jewish boys of summer who are running around Major League diamonds this year.
Gabriel Stefan Kapler
Born: July 31, 1975
Birthplace: Hollywood, CA
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Position: Center Field
Number: 33
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Average: .304
Experience: 11 Years
To honor his Jewish heritage, Kapler has a Star of David tattooed on one leg, with the inscription “Strong Willed, Strong Minded” in Hebrew, and the post-Holocaust motto “Never Again” with a flame and the dates of the Holocaust on the other.
Kapler has been given the nickname Hebrew Hammer due to his frequent longball hits, along with his muscularity and the fact that he is Jewish. It has more recently become the nickname of Ryan Braun, who is also of Jewish descent, and is Kapler’s teammate on the Brewers.
On September 27, 1999, the Tigers commemorated the closing of Tiger Stadium by wearing the numbers of greats from the organization’s history. Kapler’s jersey was blank, a homage to Ty Cobb, who competed before players received numbers. This was ironic, as Cobb was a notorious anti-Semite.
On August 8, 2005, while playing for the Red Sox, Kapler took the field in the 9th inning along with Kevin Youkilis and Adam Stern, setting a “record” for the most Jewish players on the field at one time in American League history and the most in Major League Baseball history since four Jews took the field for the New York Giants in a game in 1941.
On September 20, 2007, after only a season as a manager, Kapler announced that he would like to return to Major League Baseball for the 2008 season. On December 20, 2007, Kapler signed with the Milwaukee Brewers to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract that paid $800,000 when Kapler made the roster.

Craig Andrew Breslow
Born: August 8, 1980
Birthplace: New Haven, CT
Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: Relief Pitcher
Number: 49
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
ERA: 2.48
Experience: 4 Years
Graduated from Yale University in 2002, and in 2005 became the first Bulldog to reach the Major Leagues since Ron Darling…a molecular biophysics and biochemistry major, Breslow earned All-Ivy honors in a junior season that included a 16-strikeout performance vs. Cornell and a one-hit shutout at Harvard.

Ian Michael Kinsler
Born: June 22, 1982
Birthplace: Tucson, AZ
Team: Texas Rangers
Position: Second Base
Number: 5
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Average: .319
Experience: 3 Years
While initially reluctant, Rangers manager Ron Washington committed to Kinsler being the team’s leadoff hitter in 2008. Kinsler was selected to the 2008 AL All Star team. Through July 10th, Kinsler was leading the AL in batting average (.333), runs (82), hits (128), total bases (209), extra base hits (49), at bats (384), and plate appearances (436), and was second in doubles (31) and power/speed number (17.4), third in sacrifices (6), fourth in singles (79), fifth in stolen bases (23) and triples (4), and seventh in on base percentage (.393), slugging percentage (.5944), and sacrifice flies (5). In the field, he was also leading all major league second basemen with a 5.73 range factor and 89 double plays.

Ryan Joseph Braun
Born: November 17, 1983
Birthplace: Mission Hills, CA
Team Milwaukee Brewers
Position: Left Field
Number: 8
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Average: .300
Experience: 2 Years
He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, during which he led the National League in slugging percentage. Braun was considered the best Jewish minor league baseball prospect in 2006, and became major league baseball’s first Jewish Rookie of the Year the following season. In December 2007 Braun was the only Jewish athlete invited by President George W. Bush to the annual Hanukkah Dinner at the White House. On July 8th, Braun hit his 56th home run in his 200th game, the third highest total ever in a major leaguer’s initial 200 games, behind Mark McGwire (59) and Rudy York.

Kevin Edmund Youkilis
Born: March 15, 1979
Birthplace: Cincinnati, OH
Team: Boston Red Sox
Position: First Base
Number: 20
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Average: .315
Experience: 5 Years
A Gold Glove award winning fielder, Youkilis currently holds the sport’s all-time record for most consecutive errorless games at first base. He is also the team’s players’ representative.

Jason Scott Marquis
Born: August 21, 1978
Birthplace: Manhasset, NY
Team: Chicago Cubs
Position: Starting Pitcher
Number: 21
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
ERA: 4.73
Record: 6-5
Experience: 9 Years
Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, was September 21st, and Marquis was glad to be slated to pitch the day prior in a day game, as he expected to be done before sundown. “I look at it that religion is an important part of my life, but so is family and baseball,” Marquis said. “To me, family takes precedent over all aspects of my life. Baseball and religion fall into place, and I try not to make one more important than the other.”

John William Grabow
Born: November 4, 1978
Birthplace: Arcadia, CA
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Position: Relief Pitcher
Number: 34
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
ERA: 3.20
Experience: 6 Years
Grabow is Jewish. Grabow’s maternal grandmother was a Lebanese Jew from Beirut. Much of the family moved to Israel, while others settled in Brooklyn or California.

Bradley David Ausmus
Born: April 4, 1969
Birthplace: New Haven, CT
Team: Houston Astros
Position: Catcher
Number: 11
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Average: .235
Experience: 16 Years
Known as “one of the best defensive catchers in the game,” Ausmus has exhibited better range at catcher than the league average each season in his career. He is known for his strong arm, quick release, nimble footwork, framing pitches deftly, and smart handling of pitchers. While the vast majority of his games have been at catcher, Ausmus has also played a handful of games at first base, second base, third base, and shortstop, all of them without making an error. Ausmus has played in the post-season five times, all with the Astros, including the 2005 World Series. In Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, Ausmus homered with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game at 6-6 and send it to extra innings; the Astros eventually won in the 18th inning of the longest postseason game in Major League history.

Scott David Schoenweis
Born: October 2, 1973
Birthplace: Long Branch, NJ
Team: New York Mets
Position: Relief Pitcher
Number: 60
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
ERA: 3.13
Experience: 10 Years
Then, at age 19, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer while playing the summer league in Cape Cod. The cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes. To get back on the field by January, he requested an aggressive course of chemotherapy consisting of 3 weeklong sessions. He said he took “6 months of chemotherapy in 3 months,” and commented that “it puts things in perspective.” Schoeneweis overcame the cancer, losing 20 pounds in the process, and returned to the team the following season, but was unable to win a single game in his weakened condition. He moved up to 2nd all-time, having passed Sandy Koufax in 2007 and Ken Holtzman in 2008, of all Jewish major league pitchers in games played, and 9th in strikeouts.

Brian Jeffrey Horwitz
Born: November 7, 1982
Birthplace: Santa Monica, CA
Team: San Francisco Giants
Position: Right Field
Number: 49
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Average: .222
Debut: May 30, 2008
According to Baseball Almanac, Horwitz is the 159th Jewish player to make the majors. He credited one set of grandparents for “instilling a lot of Jewish traits in our family.” “I still love my religion,” said Horwitz. He played in the JCC Maccabi Games when he was 15 and 16, leading his LA-area team to national titles in 1996 and 1997. Horwitz hit his first major-league home run on June 2, 2008, off of New York Mets.

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